UCCS dance performance ‘Psyche’ explores pandemic isolation, togetherness | Arts & Entertainment

Experience a healing journey with the dance performance of “Psyche,” which will explore the shared feelings of isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shayla Mellen, a senior at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, produced the dance, inspired by her pandemic experience, in which she felt “blocked off from civilization.” Six performances will be held over the next two weekends at the Osborne Studio Theater.

“‘Psyche’ is about pretty much all the emotions that we went through during COVID — when the isolation periods hit in particular,” Mellen said. “As the show progresses, they get closer and closer, and it’s almost like a healing touch.”

Having to refrain from connecting with others was especially hard for Mellen, who also teaches dance at the Academy of Children.


UCCS senior Shayla Mellen produced the dance “Psyche,” inspired by her own pandemic experience.

“That was the biggest thing for me personally when we could not touch one another, because as a dancer, that’s such a huge part of our artistry,” she said. “That was very, very hard to go through. So, I really wanted to represent those types of things throughout this show.”

The show has been a year in the making, with Mellen proposing the idea to the performing arts department head last February.

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“He loved the idea,” she said. “He felt like it was something that we should really talk about, because it really changed our lives more than I think we realized.”

In the fall, Mellen began working with nine dancers on the performance, with the goal of incorporating their experiences into the dance.


UCCS senior Shayla Mellen produced the dance “Psyche” inspired by her own pandemic experience.

“I had a huge sit-down with all of the dancers, and we kind of just talked about our experiences,” she said. “We tried to think about other things that other people went through to try and connect more to everybody, and I think overall we’ve done a very good job.”

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Although the dance emphasizes the feeling of isolation, Mellen hopes it brings people together.

“I hope the audience leaves just really accepting a little bit more of what we went through and really getting to feel those emotions,” she said.

“COVID is still out there. We’re still dealing with it. But I think it’s a good thing to know that we are still living our lives.”

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